Culture & the Family

A disturbing trend

January 20, 2010

Brandon Dutcher

As this chart prepared by OCPA economists Scott Moody and Wendy Warcholik makes clear, there is one sector of Oklahoma's economy which has shown itself to be remarkably recession-proof: government.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between January 2008 (the beginning of the current recession) and November 2009, Oklahoma's private sector shed more than 49,600 total (full- and part-time) jobs. Meanwhile, state and local governments added 8,100 total (full- and part-time) jobs.

More specifically, private-sector employment in Oklahoma dropped by 3.9 percent (to 1.217 million workers from 1.266 million workers). In contrast, state government employment grew by 1.9 percent (to 85,100 workers from 83,500 workers) while Oklahoma's local government employment grew by 3.3 percent (to 201,600 workers from 195,100 workers).

This dynamic wouldn't be so bad if it weren't part of a much longer trend. From November 2000 to November 2009 private-sector employment in the state rose by a mere 1 percent. During that time, state government employment rose by 7.4 percent and local government employment rose by 22.5 percent.

Employment Growth Indices for Oklahoma